The immortal bravery of facing an inner monster

DANA POINT, California – What Does Courage Look Like?

does it have a face a style? A barking loud voice? Or is it, I think, more of a kind of inner calm that makes you fight when others would flee?

I had the opportunity to see courage up close on Friday night at an annual event in California to benefit Augie’s Quest. To understand what Augie’s Quest is, you must first know who Augie is.

Augie is Augie Nieto, a gray-haired man in his early 60s who, at the age of 19, discovered an exercise bike called the Lifecycle and decided to market it nationally. You’ve probably seen or used a Lifecycle if you’ve attended any gym in the country in the last 40 years.

Augie transformed the brick and mortar bike shop into a successful company called Life Fitness, specializing in exercise equipment. He got pretty rich. By the time he was in his late 40s, he had one of those lives that makes others green with envy. Massive success, home by the sea in California, beautiful wife, healthy kids, cars, boats, getting into the right careers.

And then Augie got ALS.

Augie Nieto guided his daughter down the aisle with the help of a machine.

Lou Gehrig’s disease.

And nobody envied him anymore.

The mind still works

Augie will tell you that his initial response to the disease was far from brave. He tried to kill himself with a pill bottle. How might a strong, competitive Type A achiever face a future of rapid decline, loss of limbs, loss of speech, and confinement in a wheelchair until his death, most likely two or three years from now?

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